Skip to main content

What Language is Spoken in Bahrain?

What Language is Spoken in Bahrain

Key Takeaways:

Primary LanguageArabic (Modern Standard Arabic)
Native DialectBahraini Arabic
Other Languages SpokenEnglish, Farsi, Urdu, Malayalam, etc.
Language for Business & TourismEnglish is widely understood


Bahrain, an archipelago in the Persian Gulf, might be small in terms of size, but it boasts a rich tapestry of cultures, traditions, and, of course, languages. While the primary language spoken is Arabic, Bahrain is a melting pot of various linguistic communities. This article delves into the intricacies of the language landscape of Bahrain.

Arabic: The Dominant Language

Arabic, more specifically Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), is the official language of Bahrain. It’s the medium of communication in most governmental, educational, and official settings.

Bahraini Arabic: The Local Dialect

Bahraini Arabic, a Gulf Arabic dialect, distinguishes itself from MSA in pronunciation, vocabulary, and syntax. Here’s a brief comparison:

FeatureModern Standard ArabicBahraini Arabic
Pronunciation of “Q”Mostly as [q]As [g] or [ʁ]
Use of PronounsStandard formsSome variations, especially in the plural forms
Common Greetings“As-salāmu ʿalaykum”“Shlonik” or “Shlonech” for “How are you?”

While MSA is understood and spoken by most, Bahraini Arabic is the first language and everyday tongue for the local population.

The Influence of Other Languages

Bahrain, given its history as a trade hub, is influenced by multiple cultures. This has led to several languages being spoken within the kingdom.

English: The Lingua Franca for Business and Tourism

With its historical ties to Britain and its modern role as a global business center, English has become the second most widely spoken language in Bahrain. Many Bahrainis are bilingual and you’ll often find road signs, menus, and other public messages in both Arabic and English.

Other Commonly Spoken Languages

Due to expatriates and foreign workers, several other languages are spoken. Some of these include:

  • Farsi: Owing to its proximity and historical connections to Iran.
  • Urdu: Spoken by a significant Pakistani community.
  • Malayalam: Common among the Malayali community from the Indian state of Kerala.

The Role of Language in Bahraini Culture

Language isn’t merely a medium of communication in Bahrain; it’s an emblem of identity, heritage, and diversity.

Celebrating Diversity

In Bahrain, the melange of languages testifies to its openness to different cultures and traditions. Festivals, cuisines, and daily interactions are all enriched by this linguistic diversity.

Preserving Heritage

While embracing global languages, there’s a strong emphasis on preserving the native dialect and promoting Arabic among the youth. This is evident in cultural programs, education policies, and media.


Bahrain, despite its modest size, offers a grand showcase of linguistic variety. From the melodic intonations of Bahraini Arabic to the global sounds of English and other languages, the nation stands as a testament to both tradition and modernity.

As a visitor or a business person, understanding the language dynamics can provide a richer, deeper experience of this Gulf nation. And as always, learning a few local phrases can be the key to warm smiles and lasting friendships.